May 4, 2015

Secret Wars vs. Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 1!

We are in the middle of DC Comics' Convergence and at the start of Marvel's Secret Wars, two series that involve multiverses colliding! Every day this week, the Cube staff will be looking at the two series that started it all: the original Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, Bob Layton, and John Beatty, and Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. We'll talk about our likes, our dislikes, and other stuff in the middle. Let's get started!

Secret Wars vs. Crisis on Infinite Earths
Part 1
Cube Roundtable
(All summaries written by Ben)

Writer: Jim Shooter; Penciler: Michael Zeck; Inker: John Beatty; Editor: Tom DeFalco

Marvel’s greatest heroes and villains are gathered by the mysterious Beyonder, and pitched against each other for an ultimate prize.  After snuffing out a pesky Ultron, Galactus attempts to face the Beyonder himself, but is quickly defeated.  While the heroes argue over if Magneto deserves to be included amongst them, the villains attack.  Except for Dr. Doom, who has bigger ambitions.

Ben Liked: Mike Zeck, the greatest superhero artist who ever lived.  Zeck should have the power to alter the fabric of reality with his pencil, like Epic Mickey (or that one episode of Bugs Bunny).  Ultron immediately attacking his supposed peers, and that he said this while doing so:

Dr. Doom concentrating less on the primary conflict, and instead focusing on how to steal the power of an omnipotent being.  Simple desires are not worthy of the attention of Doom.  (He’s the comic book equivalent of Scarlett Johansson.)  Thor co-signing the nomination of Captain America as leader.  Wolverine referring to Cyclops as “our jerk.”
Ben Disliked: If I’m being honest, the dialogue is pretty bad in places.  Shooter was a big proponent of the, at-the-time, standard practice of introducing characters and recapping events in every single comic, which often manifested itself in stilted exposition-heavy dialogue.  Some writers were better at it than others, but Shooter was not one of them.  Also, once you know about all the exclamation points, it’s very hard not to notice them constantly.  This was the first time that the idea of Magneto as militant mutant rights activist was presented, and while I’m not automatically opposed to it, I like ruthless villain Magneto so much better.  Side-switching Magneto has been done to death ever since, Gandalf aside.
Ben Didn’t Understand: Why Galactus was included with the villains.  One of the few characterization missteps by Shooter.  There’s also really no way Doctor Octopus or Kang would automatically defer to Doom for leadership.  (I almost typed Krang out of habit.  Secret Wars needed more original Krang.  He’s the missing link.  If Krang was added in to Secret Wars ,I'm pretty sure it would have opened a portal into heaven, aka Johnny Depp's brain.)  But mainly, I can’t understand how anyone could not enjoy an all-out superhero slugfest between the greatest characters in comic book history on an alien planet overseen by a mysterious godlike being.  No sense of fun or adventure, those chaps.
Best Frontman for a Progressive Rock Band: Ultron

Duy Liked: Aside from the basic concept, which is good in its simplicity, some panels are really nice-looking. The spacescapes are pretty.
Duy Disliked: You know when one "could not enjoy an all-out superhero slugfest between the greatest characters in comic book history on an alien planet overseen by a mysterious godlike being"? When it's done badly. The dialogue is terrible, full of unnatural digressions and repetitions. Not exposition, repetitions. At least Pariah is an annoying character to begin with. I'm not supposed to hate the characters in Secret Wars. I kinda do, because the way they talk completely dilutes any sense of drama. Aside from that, it's just boring. It's a lot of stuff that's good in concept and executed in a way that makes me want to read other things, like this book on statistics I have beside me for work or the instructions on the back of a Campbell soup can.  I don't know how you make Galactus falling boring and feel inconsequential, but somehow this thing accomplished it.
Duy Don't Understand: I know Mike Zeck can draw much, much better than this, so maybe it's his inker, but pretty much this issue and everything else looks so rushed, with some facial expressions even looking like they were the wrong expressions.
Wasted Opportunity: For what ended up being an evergreen book (I guess), it's a shame that the Hulk isn't savage and Iron Man isn't Tony (I think. I don't remember. I hate this series.).

Travis Liked: Gets right to the point in those first pages. “Until suddenly”! Zeck and Shooter’s Ultron is amazing.
Travis Disliked: Galactus is missing the G on his belt. Zeck draws the prominent-jaw-and-forehead Thor I don’t like as much as broad-faced cheeky Kirby or Deodato Thor. Worst Wasp costume ever.
Travis Don’t Understand: How can this not fill Duy with awe and respect?
Fight They Should Have Finished: Doc Ock vs The Absorbing Man! Short fight? Or does Ock get crafty? We’ll never know.

Matt Likes: Hulk smashes….Reed’s ego. The reaction to Magneto being on the hero side is as expected, he shouldn’t be welcomed warmly. We all knew the leader of the heroes would be Cap and the villains would all fight amongst each other, so at least there is that. Spider-Man riding the Hulk is pretty great too.
Matt Dislikes: So much talking in the third person. I get it, you’re Ultron and he’s the Absorbing Man. I gather when Doom told me. Galactus, on a power scale, really doesn’t fit and seems unnecessarily included since Doom is already there as an FF villain. The dialogue is regularly bad, but who drew Wolverine so badly in the middle of the leadership discussion?
Level of Secretness: Clearly, Magento has a thing for Thor. He’s the only one Magneto sees as an equal and he’s not even a mutant!
War, what is it good for?: Learning about Monica Rambeau. My knowledge of all things Captain Marvel (non-DC version) is abysmal.

Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman; Penciler: George Perez; Inker: Dick Giordano

The multiverse is under attack, and the mysterious Pariah is forced to watch helplessly as each world vanishes.  Earth-3 is the next world to disappear, but Alex Luthor is able to save his only son by sending him to Earth-1.  Meanwhile, Harbinger gathers together a disparate group of DC heroes and villains for the Monitor, to help fight against the coming threat.

Ben Liked: The art by George Perez and Giordano.  I can appreciate the kind of creative courage it takes to center the opening issue of a twelve part series on mostly unknown heroes and villains, but that doesn’t make most of them any more interesting (that’s what is known as a backhanded compliment).  Batman is nowhere to be found, but fortunately my beloved Dawnstar is.  I love Dawnstar so very much.  (All first issues should include Dawnstar in some capacity.  When Dawnstar isn’t around, the other characters should be asking “where’s Dawnstar?”)
Ben Disliked: As much as Duy is likely going to rip on the dialogue in Secret Wars, Marv Wolfman is so much worse here.  Take a good solid read of that opening monologue by Pariah, you’ll have no choice but to admit this to be true.  I think Wolfman might have gotten paid by the word, there’s no other explanation.  This series is the prime number one example for why writers shouldn’t edit their own work (creator-owned books excluded).  The Crime Syndicate basically talk and act like the Justice League, and not like the vicious criminals they are.  For every great character that was included in this opening group, like Solovar or Dawnstar, there’s a bewildering character, like Arion or Geo-Force.
Ben Didn’t Understand: How Wolfman went a full 24 pages before he submitted a female character to creepy mind-control (which is much longer than usual for him).  Why completely irredeemable villains like Psimon so readily worked beside the heroes right away.  (At one point Psimon says “my friend” in reference to Arion.  I know that’s a general expression and all, but no.)  How did Detective Chimp not get the call?
Turning Point Towards Firestorm’s Eventual Incarceration: “Then again, she’s not all that bad-looking, maybe…”

Duy Liked: As much as Ben will like to think my love for this series comes from nostalgia as a five-year-old, I actually didn't read this series until I was sixteen or seventeen. He's the one seeing Secret Wars with this single-digit-age lens. I loved Crisis in my most cynical of times, the times I pointed to things like The Killing Joke and said I was done with "childish" straight-up superhero stuff, and I love it now. George Perez is my favorite artist of all time, and Dick Giordano was his best inker ever.  I love the motley crew of characters assembled. I know it makes no sense. I love that it makes no sense. I love Ultraman going off to the nothing, fighting to the very end, calling forth his one ounce of heroism in the face of death (and it still fails, that's how much he sucks at being a hero.) I love Arion, Lord of Atlantis — he was always one of my obscure favorites ever since I saw him in a random issue of DC Comics Presents (notable for being the time Superman wore an earring.) and I'm going to stop at Arion. Ben is wrong.
Duy Disliked:The Monitor, Pariah, and Lady Quark. So, basically, 75% of the people created to move this story forward. George Perez may be my favorite artist of all time, but he's really low among my list of favorite costume designers, and I think Marv Wolfman was the kind of writer who was fortunate to have worked with artists who elevated him (the Bronze Age equivalent of Jeph Loeb). Those two guys created around five classic characters, three of whom don't really work outside of a group setting, and then they created Jericho and it was downhill from there. At least Harbinger isn't so bad, but of the four original Crisis characters, she's the one without much of a personality, which is like winning a moneymaking contest because you broke even and everyone else was in debt.
Duy Don't Understand: How a Wolfman/Perez book went 19 pages without a mind-controlled woman. That's got to be a record.
Mixed Bag: Killing off the Crime Syndicate first kind of highlights everything wrong about Crisis, in that if there's any one planet that didn't need any sort of consolidating, it was the Evil Mirror Universe that's a staple in science fiction. On the other hand, no Crime Syndicate story before (or, I would argue, after) has actually lived up to the potential of the concept anyway, so it was kind of a mercy killing.

Ben: You can still be nostalgic for sixteen years old!
Duy: You know what's more biased by nostalgia? EIGHT.

Travis Liked: Awesome opening birth of the multiverse page. Earth-3 Luthor’s ridiculous costume. Harbinger is great. Firebrand and Blue Beetle look great here. Perez draws the best Killer Frost.
Travis Disliked: Even Marv Wolfman doesn’t seem to know why Monitor or Harbinger are in this story, yet, or what their relationship is. Pariah’s an idiot. Dawnstar’s weird massive fringe looks like a mass of wrist and crotch tentacles. 
Travis Don’t Understand: Did it really take until Final Crisis for DC to explicitly point out that Monitor’s plans and arc in this and prior appearances don’t line up at all?
Things That Should Never Be Said: “Wait, Cyborg - Perhaps we should listen to Psimon.”

Matt Likes: Good opening art and text, it really sets the tone. Earth-3 in general is effective and the Trekkie in me loves that Earth-3’s Lex Luthor has a goatee. The zero guff Lyla takes from the Monitor and the sick burns Solovar dishes out were highly enjoyable.
Matt Dislikes: Pariah’s exposition, he is just insanely melodramatic. I dislike the Killer Frost loving Firestorm bit in its entirety. The reasons behind the collapse of the universe is flimsy and not really resonant. Harbinger is a terrible name. I am sad Booster Gold will not be appearing in this Crisis. Curse his subsequent creation!
Limit as Crisis → ∞: I was born in July 1985, perhaps I am Alexander Luthor? Definitely not.
Monitoring Station: Super creepy relationship alert! Monitor/Lyla/Harbinger/”Luthorchild.” Clearly this is a Flash story as the first Earth-1 locale is Gorilla City.

Writer: Jim Shooter; Penciler: Mike Zeck; Inker: John Beatty; Editor: Tom DeFalco

The Marvel heroes make quick work of the attacking villains, and then locate a ready-made headquarters to occupy.  The small group of villains that managed to escape capture are welcomed back by Dr. Doom, with a reprogrammed Ultron by his side.  Magneto’s secret plan inside the home-base of the good guys is interrupted, and he is forced to take the Wasp hostage as he retreats.  The Thing shockingly discovers that he can change back into Ben Grimm.

Ben Liked: Dr. Doom kissing Molecule Man’s ass because he knows what he could be capable of if he wasn’t a giant loser.  Spider-Man and the Human Torch hanging out.  Ultron as Dr. Doom’s robot bodyguard.  Thor swinging his mighty hammer.
Ben Disliked: When I was a kid, it always irked the hell out of me the way Johnny downplays Spidey’s capabilities here:

Spider-Man doesn’t just handle muggers!  Small print: to be honest, there wasn’t much going on in this chapter.
Ben Didn’t Understand: Zeck’s art definitely looks a little rushed in places, and it’s a little cumbersome having to always explain why the Hulk isn’t a lumbering brute.  And yet, with 30 years worth of subsequent events to use as examples, both Marvel and DC still produce crossovers with rushed or inconsistent art, and feature characters with temporary status quo’s that won’t stand the test of time.  Still, it is a fairly interesting snapshot of Marvel at the time, to have Professor Hulk and Jim Rhodes Iron Man along for the ride.        
Best Way to Impress the Ladies: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars comics (in mylar with backing boards)

Travis Liked: Best Magneto cover ever. Lockheed lasts longer in a fight than Colossus. Doom is really kicking ass and racking up power.
Travis Disliked: This is a great Spidey, excellent body language and characterization, and he's got nothing to do.
Travis Don’t Understand: Why are the X-Men giving Mags so much rope here?
Sad Knowledge: Mike Zeck apparently didn't enjoy doing this comic.

Matt Likes: Wolverine is always itching for a fight. Cap takes the lead immediately. The one thing I like inteli-Hulk for is a Cyclops put down. Iron Man knows sports, roundball is a sport, right? Everything Doom touches, he names after himself. Doombase, Doomrock, Doomboots, it’s all Doom, all the time. Captain Marvel pointing out, correctly, that the X-Men were AWOL when Magneto showed up to steal the Wasp (why?). 
Matt Dislikes: Intelligent Hulk runs his mouth when he should be smashing. Opening fight dialogue is painfully bad. Third person references are always bad. She-Hulk is super 80s, complete with legwarmers. Depressed Thing is depressing. The location boxes at the top left of panels are basically pointless once you establish the initial location.
Nobody Puts Galactus In a Corner: I appreciate that Galactus can’t be condescended to actually stand up, he levitates. He also entirely ignores Doom.  
War, what is it good for?: Using humane detention in the form of basically using mind control. I feel like nanites in the blood would work just as well...

Duy Liked: If I wrote down the major plot points of what happens in this issue, it sounds simple and cool enough that there would be no way it would be boring. Unfortunately--
Duy Disliked: It's really, really boring. Galactus wakes up and stands on a mountain, looking anything but menacing, because when you have a world-eater standing on a mountain, you really want to devote a tiny shot on a TV screen for it. "Look! It's Dr. Doomwimp!" is an actual line of dialogue. Doom spends three whole pages monologuing and narrating what he's doing, which may have been entertaining when Stan Lee does it, and that's about it. Dr. Octopus alternates between having a skintight suit to show off his muscles (!) or having a loose suit to cover his fat. Cyclops complaining about his life. Actually, Cyclops just existing. While we're at it, Colossus being in this comic. Every line of dialogue that comes out of the Hulk's mouth.
Duy Don't Understand: There's a scene where Janet Van Dyne, rich socialite heiress, is complaining about the situation and actually feels better when She-Hulk admits to also being bummed about the whole thing. It's immediately followed by Cyclops, the guy who lives in a mansion, complaining about how he's "never had much," despite the fact that he, you know, did have a lot. That's immediately followed by the Thing being the Thing, only accentuating how much Cyclops looks like a spoiled brat. Did Shooter hate rich people or something?
I Am Reminded That: All Asgardians, even Amora the Enchantress, have superstrength. Thor and the Executioner and whoever else just have a higher level of it than the others.

Ben: Now you're just being unreasonably harsh.
Duy: Quiet, Benwimp!

Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman; Penciler: George Perez; Inker: Dick Giordano

The Monitor dispatches his hand-picked collection of heroes and villains to protect multiple mechanical towers that will be used to help prevent the Anti-Monitor from destroying their worlds.  Harbinger finds the Luthor child sent from Earth-3, and is surprised to find he has aged rapidly.  The Anti-Monitor has secretly corrupted Harbinger, and steals away Psycho Pirate to further his goals.

Travis Liked: Dying, desperate Flash rocks. Kamandi and Anthro look great. Psycho Pirate’s domination by the great off-panel evil is excellently framed and handled.
Travis Disliked: The Batman/Joker interlude is just weak, Batman throwing out really stupid jokes and no one caring that Joker’s murdered a man.
Travis Don’t Understand: As a single issue, there’s no satisfactory structure, but as a chapter, there’s no thematic or narrative trajectory to unify the various scenes.
Easiest Way To Improve This Issue: Make Harbinger the protagonist and delve into everything else through her.

Matt Likes: Joker just straight up kills a guy in his first panel. The visual of Earth-3’s destruction is effective. Batman’s confusion on WTF is going on heightens the drama.
Matt Dislikes: Bad cavemen drawings all around and overt sexism by the second page. The exposition is bad, as are the Towers of Babel/Monitor Towers. There is really not enough development of Lyla as a character to make her turn effective. I hate Psycho Pirate.
Time After Time: I wish I could climb an impossible tower just using a vine.
Monitoring Station: Follow Brainiac-5’s lead everyone and look at the big (universal picture). There is also some Flash-foreshadowing in this issue

Ben Liked: The Legion of Super-Heroes round up some Woolly mammoths because, reasons.  (I know it’s to show that time is distorted, get off my back.  Marv stole that from an episode of the Transformers anyway.  Seriously, they even used a Woolly mammoth.  What, this came out 5 months before that episode?  I don't care, I'm not erasing any of this.  Any of it!)  The scene between the Joker and Batman, with the first ominous appearance of ghost Flash.
Ben Disliked: Eighteen pages about Woolly mammoths to open this issue.  Even less happens in this issue than the first one.  If I was picking this up off the stands month-to-month as it came out, I would have dropped it after this issue.  The continued prominence of Arion.  This panel between Kamandi and Solovar.

Ben Didn’t Understand: Psimon calls Geo-Force a “poltroon.”  Nothing and no one involved in that sentence should be part of what is considered a classic comic book series, and yet, Crisis is.  What kind of name is The Monitor?  (I bet Marv Wolfman was one of those little snitches in the halls at school, handing out tardies.  Does that make the Anti-Monitor the cool kid in a leather jacket smoking cigarettes behind the school?  Is the Anti-Monitor Fonzie, and if so, how does Jughead fit in?)
Comic Most Likely to Give Me Cancer of the Everything: Crisis on Infinite Earths

Duy Liked: Page 14 shows a rare example of curvilinear perspective being used. Arion is one of my favorite obscure characters, and I always love seeing the energy symbol around him. Anthro is hilarious. This makes me want to read classic Legion comics. Batman joking. Killer Frost being lovesick over Firestorm. I love this comic.
Duy Disliked: In the original comics, the white on black text used for the Anti-Monitor is almost unreadable. Also, Batman joking after the Joker just killed someone.
Duy Don't Understand: I'll never understand some writers' needs to narrate what the characters are doing in a George Perez drawn book.
Now I Remember: Why I cheered in Villains United  when Pariah got killed. That dude is annoying as hell.

Ben: Dude,  I'm just looking out for you. I'd hate to see what might happen to your credibility after sincere statements like "Arion is one of my favorite obscure characters, and I always love seeing the energy symbol around him. Anthro is hilarious."

Writer: Jim Shooter; Penciler: Mike Zeck; Inker: John Beatty; Editor: Tom DeFalco

As a might storm rages outside, Magneto puts the moves on his captive, The Wasp.  Spider-Man eavesdrops on the X-Men conspiring to leave and join Magneto, but Xavier erases his memory of it before he can warn the others.  Dr. Doom fortifies his crew by creating two new female super-villains.  After the storm subsides, Doom and his forces catch the heroes unaware, and defeat them easily.

Duy Liked: Spider-Man beats the X-Men. And easily.
Duy Disliked: "We agree that when my eyes meet yours, there is something electric!" The entire Wasp/Magneto scene was painful to read. A scene where Thor is supposed to look like he's enjoying calling the storms makes him look like he's evilly enjoying it. There is absolutely no consequence to Spider-Man beating the X-Men — even Professor X wiping Peter's memory doesn't lead to anything.
Duy Don't Understand: Titania gets new powers, challenges the Absorbing Man, gets turned down, walks away. I don't understand why more substories aren't structured in this incredibly undynamic method.
Thing That Should Always Be Showcased: Iron Man's roller skates.

Travis Liked: Christie Scheele kills on colors. Cap looks so good; heroic, forthright, wearing pirate boots. Wasp's sting here is beautifully begun. Volcana can singlehandedly justify any comic she’s ever been in. Titania's fun, too.
Travis Disliked: Dialogue is not always Shooter’s strong point.
Travis Don’t Understand: How Iron Man lasted so long when he had to pull on his boots and stuff.
I’m Afraid to Google and Find Out: If Volcana had a toy back then.

Ben Liked: I love anytime Spider-Man gets to prove he’s formidable amongst a big group of heroes, so suffice it to say, him smacking around the X-Men is an all-time favorite.  (Especially back-handing Wolverine across the room.)  The orgasmic look on Thor’s face as he rages against the storm.  Iron Man on skates.  Hulk telling Reed to stop his bitching.  Dr. Doom attempting to recruit Magneto.  The Wasp making out with Magneto because he has blue eyes, and probably because boredom.  Dr. Doom giving two women powers like it’s no big deal.  Absorbing Man saying “I wouldn’t put it past Doomsie to build broads from scratch.”
Ben Disliked: Not much.  Could use more Tigra.
Ben Didn’t Understand: The unrepentant penchant for heroic characters to mess with others people’s minds in the ‘80s.  Friends and foes alike.  (At least Xavier is an established prick, but the Justice League should know better, man.  I’m so disappointed in you, Zatanna.  Oh, who am I kidding, I can never stay mad at you.)
Great Name for a Music Production Company: Telepathic Orgasm (or Thor's Rain Boner, can't decide)

Matt Likes: Magento is basically channeling Namor in his Wasp scenes, it’s effective. Iron rollerskates. I didn’t know Professor X was walking in the 80s either, glad Spidey backs me up there. Spider-Man taking out the X-Men is actually pretty great and fluid.
Matt Dislikes: Again, the unnecessary exposition boxes. Show don’t tell, Shooter! Crazy Thor eyes when he smashes a big rock. Magneto’s quick seduction of Wasp is also random. The Doom of bad body forms.
Avengers vs X-Men: WTF? Why are the X-Men going to join Magneto? It’s too random. Professor X is not to be...wait, I forget.
War, what is it good for?: Demonstrating how hard it is to demonstrate electromagnetism. It’s tough. Hulk is just a put down machine, his words hurt more than his smashing. Again with the mental manipulation.

Ben: You spelled it "Magento," which is much cooler.
Matt: I was testing Duy, and he failed.

Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman; Penciler: George Perez; Inker: Dick Giordano

The Monitor examines the Luthor child, and discovers he is comprised of equal parts positive and negative matter.  The Nothing is enveloping Earth-1, and Falkor the Luck Dragon…oops, I mean, the Teen Titans and the Outsiders do what they can to limit the damage.  Heroes and villains from the past to the future try to defend the Monitor’s towers from the Anti-Monitor’s shadow demons.  Harbinger reveals her allegiance to the Anti-Monitor.

Duy Liked: That panel with Wonder Girl helping people down a building reminds me of why I fell in love with George Perez in the first place. The Western heroes show up, and the first one is Bat Lash (the best one). Batman being useless is awesome. I love the scope of everything. Not everything makes sense. Not everything has to.
Duy Disliked: That Superman/Starfire sequence really is kinda dickish of Superman.
Duy Don't Understand: How Ben can feel so little empathy for Kamandi. The kid has abandonment issues, okay?!?
Characters Who Should Join Pariah, the Monitor, and Lady Quark in Going Away: Psimon and Jericho. But especially Psimon, who gets way too much damn time in this book.

Matt Likes: The image of Metamorpho securing a whole building is pretty great. Brainiac’s (Original Recipe) ship/self is forever badass. Everyone, and I mean everyone, enjoys a good old fashioned Nazi beatdown.
Matt Dislikes: Nightwing on a bike, forever downer Batman. Ted stopping the Nazi beatdowns. The Monitor’s dick move in ditching Ted.
Time Bonanza: Time jumping is a good reason to shoot Nazis (a theme I’m gathering). The Old West, its heroes and casual racism for the win!
Monitoring Station: Flashes in and out (does that make them hot Flashes?) and we all definitely saw that betrayal coming since they mentioned it every 2 pages.

Travis Liked: George Perez invented an entire genre of organic machinery, surging, bark-like, clamshell, irising, blooming vine and flower styled technology evident later in Phil Jimenez, Paul Ryan, the dais of Jonz Rikard and his Avengers, and in the skin of the Phalanx.
Travis Disliked: Superman is full of shit when Starfire, as an former slave whose homeworld was conquered, says she’s seen worlds conquered and he holds her back, going, “I know too well.” No he doesn’t.
Travis Don’t Understand: Why is scared Batman such a great visual?
Trope That Annoys Me But Nobody Else: Monitor’s best tech in existence monitors have super low resolution the same way every television set in a comic has feedback or visible scan lines.

Ben Liked: Any appearance by the Flash or Batman, as rendered by George Perez.  George and Dick were on another level with the artwork in this series.  Robot Brainiac (one of my all-time favorite abandoned designs).  Superman hugging Starfire just a little bit too earnestly.  ("Lois never needs to know...")
Ben Disliked: The feeling I get every time I begin an issue of Crisis, knowing that I have 45 minutes of flowery prose ahead.  So many words covering up such beautiful artwork.  An entire issue featuring characters from two of my least favorite comic book genres, War and Westerns.  All that plus, Geo-Force.  (Assisted suicide isn't looking so bad.)  Three chapters in and we still don’t even know what the damn towers are for.  Focus, Marv!
Ben Didn’t Understand: Kamandi’s unsettling attachment to Solovar and his pleas for him to “come back to me” like they’ve been married for years, and not strangers that just met 5 minutes ago.  How nobody has ever realized Marv Wolfman is a pretty terrible writer that happened to work with some of the best artists in the history of the medium.  (Marv is the comic book antichrist, which I guess makes Alan Moore the bearded Jesus of comics.  Frank Miller is defecating in the Garden of Eden wearing a Batman cowl.  Grant Morrison is just the hazy fever dream of an exploding star, raining Skittles down upon gumdrop kingdom.  Taste the rainbow.)
Best Tie-In Series (If Tie-Ins Existed Yet): Wizard Jesus versus King Morrison of Gumdrop Mountain.

Travis: Really, Johnny Hart is the antichrist of comics. Byrne only wishes he could be that bitter.

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